Burr steps aside as Senate intelligence chair amid FBI probe

A Republican senator with access to some of the nation's top secrets became further entangled in a deepening FBI investigation as agents examining a well-timed sale of stocks during the coronavirus outbreak showed up at his home with a warrant to search his cellphone.

Hours later, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina stepped aside on May 14 as chairman of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, calling it the "best thing to do." Burr has denied wrongdoing.

"This is a distraction to the hard work of the committee and the members, and I think that the security of the country is too important to have a distraction,'' Burr said. He said he would serve out the remainder of his term, which ends in 2023. He is not running for reelection.

The search warrant marked a dramatic escalation in the Justice Department's investigation into whether Burr exploited advance information when he unloaded as much as $1.7 million in stocks in the days before the coronavirus caused markets to plummet. Such warrants require investigators to establish to a judge that probable cause exists to believe a crime has occurred.

The warrant was confirmed by two people familiar with the matter, including a senior department official. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss an ongoing investigation.

Burr faces no public accusations by the government that he exploited inside information received during briefings. But the search warrant immediately affected the standing inside Congress of the influential Republican, who has earned bipartisan support for leading a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign work that sometimes rankled President Donald Trump and his...

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